Mechanical Measurements on Living Plant Cells by Micro-indentation with Cellular Force Microscopy

  • Anne-Lise Routier-Kierzkowska
  • Richard S. Smith
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1080)


Indentation methods on the micro- and nanoscale are increasingly used to assess mechanical properties of living plant tissues. These techniques rely on recording the force resulting from indenting the cell surface with a small probe. Depending on the scale of indentation and the indenter shape, force-indentation data will reflect several factors such as cell wall elasticity, turgor pressure, cell and tip geometry, and contact angle. Cellular force microscopy is a micro-indentation method that was designed to precisely measure and apply forces on living plant cells. Here we explain how to use this method to map the apparent stiffness in single cells and tissues.

Key words

Plant mechanics Micro-indentation Turgor pressure Primary cell wall Elastic modulus Stiffness Mechanosensing 



We gratefully acknowledge all those involved in the development of the CFM, Dimitris Felikis, Simon Muntwyler, Felix Beyeler, Brad Nelson, Cris Kuhlemeier, and Michal Huflejt, as well as those who helped to perfect the protocol in the first experiments, Petra Kochova and Alain Weber. We thank Gabriella Mosca, Pierre Barbier de Reuille, and Sarah Robinson for discussions and Willi Tanner for custom machine work. This work was supported by and the University of Bern.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne-Lise Routier-Kierzkowska
    • 1
  • Richard S. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Comparative Development and GeneticsMax Planck Institute for Plant Breeding ResearchKölnGermany

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